The Bach Commission on Access to Justice
Law for Life’s CEO Lisa Wintersteiger was pleased to give evidence to Lord Bach's Commission on Access to Justice. Public legal education (PLE) is fundamental to access to justice and the rule of law. Most people don’t understand their rights and struggle to access services, and the majority of people can’t afford to pay for the help of a lawyer. At a time of significantly reduced expenditure for legal aid, combined with fast-paced reforms on the horizon in the form of Brexit and the move to Online Courts - now more than ever PLE must be seen as a priority.
Scaling up and expanding solutions to the underlying lack of knowledge about legal rights and the justice system requires a coordinated response by Government, the legal profession and civil society.
The public needs to be able to rely on high quality, impartial and independent sources of legal information and education - whether about the accountability of providers of local services, their family matters or coping with their tax credits.
Linking and embedding offline teaching and targeting those most in need with digital solutions that can keep pace with legal change is a cost-effective mechanism for reaching more people - but much more needs to be done.
Rather than confining legal education to schools, information and learning should be available wherever and whenever it is needed - whether someone is visiting a GP, attending a mother and baby group, or when they are preparing to take on a tenancy.
Read the full evidence provided to the Commission here.
You can read an interview about the evidence in Legal Futures here.
About the Commission
The commission, which met for the first time on Tuesday 19th January 2016, will hear from a range of legal experts and provide evidence-based proposals for how to restore access to legal information, advice and representation. Its starting point will be that access to justice is an essential public service, equal to healthcare or education.
The commission is supported by Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Justice Secretary Lord Falconer and Shadow Attorney General Karl Turner. Its findings will be considered by Labour’s policy review.
Members of the commission, who have all been chosen for their expertise in this area, include Hillsborough lawyer Raju Bhatt; Director of the Law Centres Federation Julie Bishop; former president of the Law Society Lucy Scott-Moncrief CBE; and former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Henry Brooke CMG.
You can read more about the commission here.